Sunday, December 14, 2003

Fortune and fame may await local 'Survivor'

Will Lillian Morris walk away with a cool million?

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lillian Morris
Could the number seven, as in CBS' Survivor: Pearl Islands, the seventh installment of the hit series, be a lucky number for Deerfield Township's Lillian Morris?

Tonight's the night to find out whether our local Survivor will beat out her remaining opponents and walk away with the $1 million prize during the show's two-part season finale (8-10 p.m. on Channels 12, 7).

The once-banished, then restored player showed her true Survivor skills Thursday in dispatching the attractive, but expendable, Burton.

If "Big Lill" does end up winning tonight, what happens next? Will she be able to parlay that success into international celebrity?

"Just making it through all this is quite an accomplishment," says Linda Wright, president of Wright Communications, a public relations firm in Madison Place. Whatever the outcome, Wright suggests Morris call a media attorney and a public relations firm.

"A good media attorney has experience related to product endorsements" which may be Morris' ticket to stardom, Wright said.

Endorsing products sounds like a good idea to George Francis, promotions director of Bass Pro Shops in Fairfield. He says Morris' love of the outdoors and the skills she displayed during the show give her a unique marketing edge.

"Rather than the fact we'd love to have her here as a salesperson, she'd probably be able to reach people on a more national scale if she became a consultant with camping equipment manufacturers like Coleman or Eureka," he said. "She could travel around the country talking about equipment or help redesign an existing line."

Francis also thinks Morris' experience as Scoutmaster of the 78-member Troop 117 will help her keep an audience attentive.

Learning the best way to carry some of her spunk onto a public speaking platform is something Betsy Ross says will help Morris. Ross, president of Game Day Communications, says most of the Survivor finalists typically sign with national firms like William Morris and IMG, who assist with media training and speaking with authority.

"All you have to do is look at what Rodger (Bingham) has done," Ross says. Bingham of Crittenden competed in the second Survivor series, and still makes appearances.

"Since she's in the final four, we know she'll be giving speeches and making appearances. She needs someone who can take care of the promotional requests."

Still, none of the experts interviewed for this story said they would advise Morris to make chasing celebrity a new career.

"If (celebrity) is what she has in mind, she has to take time and talk with her family about the next step," Francis said.

Wright warns about Morris' future "15 minutes of fame."

"The public is way too fickle when it comes to celebrities," she says. "I would definitely tell her to not quit her job" as a customer service worker for a local eyeglass company.

Says Ross, "My best advice is for her to just have fun with this."


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